Octogenarian SA hotelier, who responds to every guest comment, bags prestigious award
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Red Carnation Hotels founder and president Beatrice 'Bea' Tollman has received the ‘best in the industry’ Corporate Hotelier of the World award from the premier US hotel industry magazine HOTELS, “for her dedication, endless energy and creation of an admired hotel portfolio”.
Red Carnation’s history began when her husband Stanley’s father, Solomon Tollman, opened in August 1920, a small hotel in Paternoster on South Africa’s West Coast.
The Paternoster Hotel rose to fame for its hospitality. A few hotels and a move to Johannesburg later, Solomon’s son Stanley, TTC chairman and inspiration for the Red Carnation Hotels name, was born.
Fast forward a few years, and enter Beatrice who Stanley met in Johannesburg in 1950. For many years, Beatrice and Stanley ran numerous hotels, first in South Africa and, since 1984, from their London headquarters.
Hard work and dedication to service excellence has been the couple’s calling since they leased their first hotel in 1954, The Nugget in Johannesburg, using wedding present money to furnish the property.
At age 22, Beatrice, who initially intended to become a nursery school teacher, was a novice running her own kitchen and learning the ins and outs of luxury hotelkeeping.
"She has always run the family home, brought up four children and worked day and night to build the family business. She talks about working on the evening she delivered her fourth child, Vicki, and how she had to ask a friend to drive her to the hospital because Stanley was working elsewhere. She delivered the baby and was back working in her sanctuary, the kitchen, no more than a few days later wearing her white overalls, hair tied up, standing behind the long counter to taste everything on the menu," a press release reveals.
Beatrice, who has been called ‘the gold standard for excellence’, is dedicated to her craft and has an unwavering determination to deliver the best of everything. For the founder and president of the Red Carnation Hotels Collection, hotelkeeping is a 24/7 love affair.
Beatrice, now in her 80s, and 90-year-old Stanley, own and operate a collection of 20 luxury hotels in the UK and Europe, South Africa, including The Oyster Box, where the couple had their first date, the United States and Botswana.
“You have your ups and downs in business, but you stick together, face everything and you just work with a determination. And I suppose that’s the most important thing, the determination and creating high standards. It has been a very, very busy life. But you don’t realize how much you can do in your life. You can’t complain; you just get on with it and do it. We’ve worked this way for many years," said Beatrice.
When Tollman is not in the kitchen, she is usually touring the properties, making sure staff training is ongoing and is focused on service delivery.
Respect has also been a key to Beatrice's success. “You have to respect the people you work with and who work with you. I treat everybody with respect, no matter who they are or what they are because everybody has to earn a living," she said.
She's always on the go and loves working.
"I’m always working. I’m always in my office. I read every report every day and answer every guest comment. So, I can’t get out of my office… It’s in my blood because it’s so important when you want to make high standards in a business. You’ve got to watch everything and that’s a lot to watch," she added.